Last week, Dan Berlin became the first blind person to run the length of the 26-mile Inca Trail in Peru, according to a press release by travel company Intrepid Travel. With three teammates—Charles Scott, Alison Qualter Berna, and Brad Graff—Berlin finished the route to Machu Picchu in 13 hours.
The 45-year-old runner became the first blind athlete to run the Grand Canyon’s Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim last year. “[My teammate] told me, ‘Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as the Grand Canyon,’” Berlin told Outside on Tuesday. “And we get out there, and there are probably 10,000 steps on the trail. It’s crazy.”
Berlin and his team started at 4:30 a.m. GMT-5 on October 14. The team had to reach the Winayawayna checkpoint by 4:00 p.m. if they were to finish the route before dark. They arrived at 3:58 p.m. “What’s remarkable is his level of trust,” said Berna, who also completed the Grand Canyon trip with Berlin. “He literally is putting his life in our hands.”
Berlin said that the beauty of his adventures has been the most memorable. “We live in such a visual world that it’s difficult for some people to understand the beauty of a space,” he said. “For me, the beauty is the feel of the place. It’s the people that we’re with, feeling the soft earth, the hard granite steps, the humidity in the air.”
On Saturday, Berlin and his group visited a school for the blind in Lima, Peru. He said it was rewarding to speak with the children about possibilities. “We’re so often told by well-meaning people everything we can’t do,” he said. “The message is to get out there, that we can do things.”